As the administration continues to explore the possibility of switching to a four-by-four curriculum – in which students take four four-credit classes each semester – some serious questions remain about the impact that such a change would have on the character of the University.
There are both financial and academic benefits to the four-by-four system. In theory, classes would become more in-depth, allowing students to partake in an academically rigorous exploration of their chosen major. The reduced number of classes would also save money and space – two items in short supply at GW.
The potential problems with implementing four-by-four, however, are not always apparent when making comparisons between a potential GW four-by-four and similar systems at other schools, as the task force looking into the possible change has been doing.
GW students are often attracted to Foggy Bottom because they can immerse themselves in a curriculum that is both theoretical and practical, with enough extra time to get an internship, see world-renowned speakers and have a little fun on the weekends. Switching to four-by-four would not just be a minor improvement for GW academics. It will change the atmosphere and the culture of GW on a fundamental level – perhaps something that the exploratory committee can’t fully grasp.
If four-by-four takes effect, the administration is making a choice to have more Rhodes scholars and a more prestigious University, but at what cost? Does it mean that there will be fewer Mark Warners (former Virginia governor) and other politicians coming out of GW’s ranks?
I’m personally in favor of four-by-four, but only if it is a system planned well enough to integrate with and expand GW’s culture of D.C. integration rather than detract from it.
-The writer, a junior majoring in international affairs, is Hatchet opinions editor.